Topics discussed in Steven's latest newsletter include:
The Voluntary Euthanasia debate, Mining Act Review, Planning Reform progress, Floods & Storm Damage update, Grants update, Ridgway Goyder Agricultural Tour, Federation Park Roundabout, Yorke Peninsula's new oyster reef, Adelaide Plains Innovation and Yorke Peninsula Food Directory
Not unexpectedly, the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2016 has been the topic I have been most contacted about in recent weeks, this legislation having been scheduled for further consideration in Parliament on 20 October.
However, expected debate on the Private members Bill proposed by the Member for Ashford the Hon. Steph Key MP was adjourned (to 1 December 2016); and a new Private Members Bill, entitled the Death with Dignity Bill, was introduced by the Member for Morphett Dr. Duncan McFetridge MP (seconded by the Member for Ashford) and will now be considered for further debate next sitting week, on 3 November 2016.
I have very much appreciated the time taken by so many constituents to contact me with their thoughts on voluntary euthanasia and to provide details of their experiences which have formed their view, for or against, the proposed legislation. Please be assured receiving your feedback has been very important to me.
Mining Act Review
Minister for Minerals Resources and Energy the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP recently announced a review of South Australian Mining Laws (Mining Act 1971, the Miners and Works Inspection Act 1920 and the Opal Mining Act 1995) which will be of particular interest to farming land holders.
Discussion papers are expected to be released by early November.
The announced consultation time frames for this review are of concern to me, having been scheduled to coincide with busy grain harvest periods and thus potentially impact on the ability of landowners to fully participate in this important review process.
I have contacted Minister Koutsantonis requesting a review of timeframes for the formal consultation.
The State Government is welcoming all industry, traditional and other landowners, regional communities and stakeholders to contribute to this review, and whilst we await the release of the discussion papers any initial comments can be made by emailing DSD.email@example.com. Further info: http://www.minerals.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/exploration/leading_practice_mining_acts_review
Planning Reform progress
There was continued debate on the Statutes Amendment (Planning, Development and Infrastructure) Bill in the House of Assembly on 19 October, for which I was lead speaker for the opposition in my capacity as the Shadow Minister for Planning.
The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 was passed back in April, and now falls the task of, step by step, implementing this major reform (the legislation is more than 240 pages long), which is expected to take between 3-5 years.
As the reform is rolled out, components of the existing Development Act 1993 will be “turned off” as new components are “switched on” under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. Essentially the Statutes Amendment Bill debated last week facilitates this phased process to ensure planning decisions can continue to be made in this transition period.
Notably, the appointment of a Planning Commissioner by Minister Rau is not scheduled to occur before March 2017, nor the appointment of a State Planning Commission before April 2017, and only from there can development of the new Community Engagement Charter commence.
The new Planning and Design Code component of the reform is not expected to start until mid-2018, and the new e-planning system is not expected to be rolled out until 2019.
I will keep you informed as this legislation progresses. Transcripts of all Parliamentary debates, speeches and questions are available on Hansard: https://hansardpublic.parliament.sa.gov.au ; speeches by me are also at www.stevengriffiths.com.au
Floods & Storm Damage update
The impacts of the State-wide storms, power outages and localized flooding in late September/early October are still being felt, in particular by horticulturalists on the Adelaide Plains where some 1500 hectares were left underwater (affecting an estimated 300 growers).
The Recovery Hotline – 1800 302 787 – remains open for updated information about available services, including advice on relief grants. Relief Centres have closed but the Northern Adelaide Flood Plains Flood Recovery Centre on Old Port Wakefield Road at Virginia is open 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 12.30 pm on Saturdays. For more information, visit www.sa.gov.au/recovery.
South Australian vegetable grower body AUSVEG SA and the South Australian Produce Market have teamed up to establish the SA Growers Flood Appeal to rally support for local growers and I commend them on this initiative which has already raised over $70,000. The Appeal is funding seedlings and other start-up costs for affected growers so they can get back on their feet, with funds administered by registered charity Foodbank. Contributions can be made by calling 08 8349 4493 or by donating via Foodbank’s website: http://www.foodbank.org.au/donate-online
The announcement by the State Government on 7 October that it is to provide funding of $3.5 million to repair jetties damaged by the storms was very welcome. In the Goyder electorate, $900,000 has been allocated to repair local jetties, with $300,000 for Port Rickaby Jetty; $500,000 for Port Victoria jetty (which lost at least seven bays, four piles and 50 metres of deck); and $100,000 for Wallaroo spur jetty (for new fenders and deck).
It was very important that our fine old jetties be repaired to their pre-damaged length and use as they are of significant economic, historical and social importance to us all, and are a key attraction for tourists. Thus I really appreciated the Government’s quick, positive response to this issue.
Federation Park Roundabout
Members of the Yorke Peninsula Councils Alliance and I met with the Minister for Transport & Infrastructure the Hon. Stephen Mullighan MP on 19 October to talk about the design of the Federation Park roundabout announced in August.
The group of Mayors and CEOs from the District Council of the Copper Coast, District Council of Barunga West, Yorke Peninsula Council, and Wakefield Regional Council put the case for the addition of a slip lane for Copper Coast traffic heading towards Port Wakefield that merges with the roundabout traffic for better flow.
We are hopeful this request will be granted, as there is concern the announced roundabout design will not alleviate the notorious problems at this intersection during peak periods.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Goyder Tour
On 4 & 5 October I was pleased to host a tour of the Goyder electorate by State Liberal leader in the Legislative Council David Ridgway, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and Shadow Minister for Tourism (pictured far left).
This two-day itinerary included visiting Primo Smallgoods at Port Wakefield, Greenwheat Freekeh near Dublin, Viterra at Wallaroo and the Minlaton Show, and taking part in a Rex Minerals Hillside Mine public information session in Ardrossan.
Valuable discussion sessions were also held with local members of both the Australian Grain Growers Co-operative and the Yorke Peninsula Alkaline Soils Group, and with Yorke Peninsula Tourism Marketing manager Brooke Liebelt – and I thank all who met with us for their important contribution.
Yorke Peninsula’s new oyster reef
Having provided written support for the bid to have the State’s first artificial shellfish reef (and Australia’s largest) built off the Gulf St Vincent coast near Ardrossan, I was pleased to hear the good news Yorke Peninsula had been selected with the $4 million project expected to create jobs and significantly boost fishing tourism value in our region.
The Federal Government’s commitment of $900,000 from Round 3 of the National Stronger Region Fund for the project was also very welcome, complementing the State’s investment of $600,000 and YP Council’s contribution of $100,000.
Congratulations to The Nature Conservancy, Yorke Peninsula Council, Ardrossan Progress Association, the University of Adelaide, PIRSA and DEWNR for all their behind the scenes work to secure this successful outcome.
Adelaide Plains innovation
I was pleased to attend the official launch of the Adelaide Plains Major Events and Innovation group on 11 October at Two Wells where a vision was unveiled to promote the Adelaide Plains as a destination point and as the important food bowl it is for the State. Well done to this new committee, led by John Lush, for its passion and sound ideas for growth for the region which has rallied the whole community - including Council, State Government, community groups, developers, businesses and residents.
I look forward to hearing more about plans for a 2017 Expo to showcase Adelaide Plains businesses and all that the region has to offer.
Yorke Peninsula Food Directory
I congratulate Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North for releasing a first edition Yorke Peninsula Food Directory containing information about local produce, where to find it and how to access it.
If you are a food producer or business promoting local produce in the region and your information is not included in the directory, email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to access the Food Producers Application Form. The YP Food Directory is available for download at http://www.yorkeandmidnorth.com.au/document manager/YPFoodDirectory.pdf
Nuclear jury process continues
I commend all who took the time to attend one of the four information sessions held within the Goyder electorate as part of the state-wide community consultation program in response to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report (Port Wakefield on 5 Sept, Yorketown 6 Sept, Kadina 7 Sept and at Pt Pearce on 12 October).
These sessions provided me with the valuable opportunity to speak with local people and to get feedback from them as well as the session presenters. With the Citizens Jury process winding up and soon delivering its verdict (final weekend 5-6 November), the final decision of whether or not to pursue high-level nuclear waste storage and disposal in this State will rest in the hands of the State Government.
I learned at the engagement sessions the projection is for nuclear waste, if brought to SA, to be stored above ground, relatively close to the point of entry to SA, for a minimum of 17 years. I have attended several briefings on the nuclear waste disposal but this had never been told to me before – and I must say that this worries me enormously.
The Government is expected to announce its position by the end of 2016.
Regional Health Inquiry
On 17 October I presented to a Parliamentary Inquiry into Regional Health Services, and whilst the specific terms of reference did not allow me to discuss all the many areas of concern about local health services that are shared with me by constituents, the process was valuable.
Health services and roads are the subjects I am most contacted about, and this has been the case throughout my 10 years as the Member for Goyder.
Under the topic of Health, concerns include waiting lists for treatment, surgery and to see visiting specialists; lack of beds; reduced weekend services; understaffing, staff recruitment and skill shortages; underutilized existing facilities (including the Wallaroo Chemotherapy Unit); rising fees; dire need for specialist mental health and drug & alcohol addiction support services; need for more outpatient services; and the continuing centralization of services to an already over-burdened city health system which brings with it transport and accommodation issues for regional patients requiring treatment away from home.
It is noted these issues formed a common thread within the many written submissions made to the Inquiry, so it is clear these concerns are felt across regional SA.
Within the scope of the specific terms of reference, discussion topics included the role of Health Advisory Councils, trends in community fundraising for medical equipment and services, the process and timing of hiring of staff, SA Ambulance service arrangements, mental health service provision, and the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme.
State Government funding programs currently open are:
National Youth Week Grants: Applications are open until 18 November for local councils, State Government agencies and non-government organisations that work directly with young people to apply for up to $4,000 to host an event or activity during National Youth Week, 31 March – 9 April 2017. The theme next year is youTHRIVE; more information: www.officeforyouth.sa.gov.au/NYW
Female Facilities Program: Up to $500,000 available for non-profit sporting clubs, associations and community organisations to build fit for purpose female change rooms. Closes 13 November 2016.
Sport and Recreation Development and Inclusion Program: for sport and recreation groups, industry bodies, Local Government and community groups to develop projects aimed at growing a sport or activity, improving services and/or addressing barriers to inclusion. Up to $100,000 available per project each year for up to three years. Closes 5 December 2016.
2016 Community Voices Program: providing a unique opportunity for up to 10 community organisations to develop either a short document or online video advertisement to be used for promotion, training, education and recruitment of volunteers. Closes 11 November 2016.
Job Accelerator Grants: offers businesses up to $10,000 ($5,000 each year for two years) per new full-time equivalent (FTE) job created, paid at the first and second anniversary date of employment. The new position must be created between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018.
Grants SA – a single application process for community groups seeking consideration under four different one-off grant programs: the Charitable and Social Welfare Fund (formerly Community Benefit SA), Multicultural SA Grants, Volunteer Training Grants and the Volunteer Support Fund. Major grant rounds of $20,001 - $50,000 open twice a year; medium grants of $5,001 - $20,000 open four times a year; and minor grants of up to $5,000 open all year round (assessed monthly). More info: Phone 1300 650 985.
Regional Arts Fund – Country Arts SA: three categories: Step Out, Step Up, and the Country Arts SA’s Skills Development Program, all designed to inspire arts and cultural activity in rural, regional and remote areas of South Australia.
Visit www.stevengriffiths.com.au or phone/email the Goyder office for more information on all grant programs